Tag Archives: Assist

Welcome Back To The Human Race

5 Feb

Azizeh

Congratulations ma’am, on closer inspection you are a human being after all. Three years ago you were walking around in the snow with no home and not a penny – your asylum claim and section 4 support had been denied so you ceased to exist and were left to the kindness of strangers for support. This snowy day you have that priceless piece of plastic in your purse declaring that you have Three Years Discretionary Leave To Remain. All RASAG members and friends wish you the very best of everything Azizeh and we give heartfelt thanks to the UKBA for acknowledging that you, a grandma from Tehran who survived a terrifying journey to flee persecution and seek sanctuary in Britain, are human after all.

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Sheffield NEEDS Lemlem

22 Jun

Thursday 21st June 2012 1pm, Sheffield.  People  gathered to bear witness to the gross injustice in the asylum case of Lemlem Hussein Abdu of Eritrea, 1/1/50 who is currently detained at Yarls Wood Immigration_Removal Centre, Bedfordshire.

Lemlem was born in a village in 1950 in what is now Eritrea   She was married at 12 and spoke Tigrinyan.  She lived a traditional life and was not able to read or write her native language.  Lemlem was surrounded by her family and friends. parents, children, grandchildren…  In 1978 her village was burned down.  Lemlem lost everything.  She fled.  She survived.

Lemlem’s story from then on is well documented – Ice and Fire Theatre Company have made an “Asylum Dialogue” http://iceandfire.co.uk/ of her life story and previous campaigns by the Sheffield community against the wrongdoing of the Uk Border Agency  have highlighted the details…  In 2007  Lemlem was deserted in London, with no money, no ID, no family, no friends, and no English with which to cry for help.  She was 55 years old, disabled and destitute.  

Lemlem came to Sheffied under an arbitrary dispersal order from the UK Border Agency: Against all odds, Lemlem  made a family: Lemlem made a home.

Lemlem is in detention for the third time in the UK.  The Uk Border Agency has booked flights to the Ethiopian capitol Addis Ababa for the third time, despite the fact that their establishment has now accepted that Lemlem Hussein Abdu is Eritrean by ethnicity, not Ethiopian.

Lemlem at demo apposing Eritrean Ambassador UK, Feb 2011

Lemlem talking at IT Club on Monday 18th June 2012 on subject of reporting to UKBA Tuesday 19th June 2012 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_MsrfLctuk&feature=plcp

Please contact the airline on their facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/flyethiopian – messages on their page will send shockwaves to the highest levels of their commercial sales team – it will hit them were it hurts, in the pocket.

They are a courteous and charming airline, and will be glad to hear your concerns about their customers and crew – airlines have stopped deportations before now.  Flight ET 701 to Ethiopia 21.00 June 24th 2012 Ethiopian Airlines, Heathrow – Addis Ababa.

Please keep up to date with campaign new and actions by joining the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/102878976433976/

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Please see Sheffield’s response to Lemlem being taken away from us:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APeHGS-NTmc&feature=player_embedded

Please keep trying for Lemlem, for peace, for love, for all of us

Happy refugee week Lemlem – Wishing you were not so terrified, brutalised, denied…

Sheffield Loves Lemlem

20 Jun

 

Lemlem is 62 years old and was born in Eritrea.  The village she comes from was a known support base for the Eritrean Liberation Front and consequently in 1978 her village was attacked by Ethiopian forces and burnt to the ground, leaving Lemlem with no surviving relatives.

Lemlem fled to Sudan and lived in a refugee camp, eventually achieving refugee status.  Finding herself with few opportunities as a refugee in Sudan, she applied for work as a domestic servant in Saudi Arabia and got herself a job with a family.  The family regularly visited the UK, and wanted to take Lemlem with them to care for their children, so they obtained an Ethiopian passport for her;

Lemlem is illiterate in both Tigrinya (native tongue) and Arabic (2nd lang), so never applied for, read or even held her own passport.  As Eritrea had gained Independence from Ethiopia in 1993 the passport was fraudulent in relation to her nationality at the very least.

In 2000, Lemlem’s employers visited the UK and took her with them. She had a fall and suffered a broken leg while looking after the family’s children:  She has never fully recovered. Her employers stopped paying her wages as she could no longer carry out some heavy physical tasks.  On a subsequent visit to the UK in 2007 the family abandoned her in a shopping centre with no money and no identification. She has sight and mobility problems.

Lemlem had no prior knowledge of the asylum system in the UK, but came to understand that she would need to register herself and file a claim for “asylum”, which she did.  She was refused.  Lemlem was sent to live in Sheffield, and despite her traumatic history and tragic absence of any living relative or friend, Lemlem threw herself into the Sheffield community, attending ESOL classes, conversation clubs and community groups with an optimism and generosity of spirit that amazed anyone that knew even the remotest detail of her past or current situation.

After her appeals against her refusal for asylum were turned down, Lemlem became destitute.  She became ineligible for any form of public housing or support; having nowhere else in the world to go, she became dependent on charities (notably ASSIST) and the goodwill and generosity of Sheffield people.

In July 2010 and again in October 2010 Lemlem was detained by the UK Border Agency, sent to a detention centre and flights were booked to deport her to Ethiopia, a place where she knows no one, does not speak the language and would receive no form of support.  She could not have survived there.  Thankfully on both occasions injunctions halted the removal orders and spared Lemlem at the very last minute.  No-one who knew Lemlem could bear the thought of her being detained again, never mind deported, so she did not return to the address from which she had been forcibly removed and did not report to sign at the UK Border Agency, the other location from which she had been forced into detention.

A fresh claim for asylum has been prepared for Lemlem by a devoted voluntary legal team.  Friends of Lemlem and those involved in previous campaigns were on standby for Tuesday 19th June 2012 when Lemlem would report to the UK Border Agency and re-register herself.

Lemlem spoke to Ian Nesbit at RASAG IT Club on Monday;

Lemlem

 

On Tuesday 19th June 2012 Lemlem Hussein Abdu, 62, Eritrean was detained by the UK Border Agency and sent to a detention centre.  She will be deported to Ethiopia on Sunday 24th June 2012, 9pm.

A protest will take place outside Sheffield Town Hall , Thursday 21/06/12, 1pm.  We will march to Vulcan House to protest outside the UK Border Agency offices.  They know we are coming and will be expecting a reasonable crowed and a bit of noise disturbance (they shut the curtains on previous occasions).  It is essential that this demonstration gets as many people as possible.

Lots of people will be busy at work and not around town, but if everyone could convince SOMEONE to go, it could make the difference.

Someone sharing the e-petition on facebook today wrote “AMIGOS,POR FAVOR: tirem um minuto para assinar esta peticao. E una historia distante para muitos de nos mas sera una assinatura que pode evitar uma sentenca de morte. Estejam onde estiverem, e isso que ira pesar. Va la, uma pequena contribuicao, um pequeno gesto mas una vida que se salva!!!”  – I wasn’t sure what it meant but Bing informed me that the last part means,” spare a moment to save a life.”

It really is that important.

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/groups/102878976433976/

Doing IT?

29 Nov

IT Club has enjoyed it’s 5th successful session, with numbers steadily rising from 8 attendees at the first session to 17 at yesterday’s…  Volunteers are growing week by week as well, with three people now committing to attend regularly to assist members  with skills using email, web based publishing sites and reading.  As the activity develops the evidence of the need for  it is mounting up -so it seems like a good time to answer the question – IT Club –  why do it..?

On 11th September 2011 RASAG held it’s second “Happy Eid For Everyone” party, pictured above.   The majority of the budget was used on food making sure that there was a wide selection of dishes from around the world, freshly cooked with “whole food” ingredients, all suitable for our majority Muslim membership…  The party was open for everyone in the community and we aimed to cater for the enjoyment of a born and bred white Sheffielder, just as much as for a person or family from a different culture.

Our main intention in organising an event as a refugee/asylum seeker group, is to ensure that it is accessible to the hardest to reach people, including those who through the workings of the UK asylum system have been made destitute with no legal status to allow them to work and no recourse to public funds.  Good food, good music and the certainty of a friendly welcome all ensure that our parties are accommodating to someone living in enforced destitution.  Thanks to RASAG teaming up with the welcoming organisation Sheffield City of Sanctuary, “Happy Eid…” enjoyed a fabulous turnout of almost 200 people – African Arabic , Asian and Persian dishes were enjoyed alongside the sounds of DJ Ebo, and Shangra band Yakam Jar Bu – people danced, and laughed and were merry – even the tinned fruit and ice cream dessert was received with rapturous enthusiasm!  To the untrained eye the old school hall was the picture of affable comradery, but from RASAG’s p.o.v, the people who couldn’t raise a single smile, who’s foot never tapped to the beat and who didn’t exchange a word in sociablity were the only ones who mattered and they were dotted throughout the room like shadows in every corner.  Which raised the question – as a group, is it enough to simply afford a welcome to those most in need at occasional gatherings?  If the best we can do as a community group is provide a jolly a few times a year, are we really doing anything at all?  So IT Club was born.

The idea is very simple – four hours of high speed internet access on 11 PC’s, a box of additional resources including Flip cameras, ESL textbooks, dictionaries etc, a shared hot lunch and a small amount of petty cash to reimburse travel expenses for unwaged participants and volunteers – oh and printing is free with the room by default, although the line did have to be drawn when someone wanted to print a whole book!  There is no pressure  for people to prescribe to a specific line of learning, and in fact those who come along expecting a structured IT lesson are quickly put right.  The shared blog space (http://rasagcomputerclub.wordpress.com/) and encouragement to use email, Youtube, facebook and Twitter alongside learning basic IT skills, such as log on, shut down, highlight, double click, make IT Club more like a conversation club online.  Just like Sheffield’s highly successful conversation clubs, IT Club is not only open to refugees and asylum seekers, but to everyone who wants to talk and share, forming a community.

That’s what we’re doing – and we’re going to keep doing IT.

HLC funds RASAG employment course

8 Feb

The poor old RASAG blog has been rather neglected of late, but this is not because the group has been inactive – on the contrary, we have been busier than ever!

Back in December RASAG contributed to a wonderful winter celebration in aid of ASSIST – group members cooked a variety of dishes from around the world and a number of us went along to enjoy the music, dancing and performances.  We also faciliatated a performance by wonderful, soon to be famous RASAG friend Pallav Roy – a young man destined for great things!  The event was organised by Sharrow’s own Creative Action Network and Side by Side drama group and was a successful, enjoyable evening.

Going even further back we contributed to a City of Sanctuary event in Gleadless Valley, which sought to address racial tensions in the area by bringing together long term residents with new arrivals, to share stories, food and music and open a dialogue between the groups.  At this event we were pleased to provide some lovely dishes and Yakam Jar Bu got everyone up, holding hands and dancing!

We have decided to hold a weekly session for our members, supporting language needs, signposting volunteering and training opportunities and enabling peer support and advice – we are in the process of applying for funding to support this work.  In the meantime, we have been awarded some funding by Humber Learning Consortium to deliver some Communications and Presentation skills for work training in February.  Learners will be creating a group blog – so this page will soon have a sister!  How exciting!  As part of our bid we are to buy some Flip video cameras, so visitors can expect lots of footage of our work in future!  The training and our weekly sessions will take place at Sharrow Community Forum, Sheffield.

The HLC funding comes from the European Social Fund and is to benefit hard to reach individuals who face significant barriers to employment.

ESF Logo

Lemlem Coming Home To Stay?

23 Jul

Great news has come through that Lemlem will be released from Yarls Wood and allowed to come back to Sheffield – she must feel so relieved and campaigners will be elated.  However, until Lemlem is granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, the battle will not be over.  It is still vital that we put pressure on Meg Munn, Lemlem’s constituency MP to lobby the Home Secretary on her bahalf.   Theresa May and the Home Office are the best chance for Lemlem. The legal team is preparing a judicial review for today so there is hope, but there’s still some way to go.  For now, Lemlem has been granted “temporary admission” and will be returning to the UK’s first City of Sanctuary, her home.

If, like me, you have read the two news articles in the Star about Lemlem online you may have been as shocked as I have been about the ignorant, racist and vitriolic comments that have been made about Lemlem and her situation.  There is clearly some way to go in making sure that the inhabitants of Sheffield are “proud to be a place of safety”.  A BBC Radio Sheffield journalist is preparing a feature on City of Sanctuary and is looking for 7 case studies of people who have come to Sheffield for Sanctuary.  Preferably the participants will have been in Sheffield for 3 years or less, people from any stage of the asylum process (including enforced destitution) are welcome.  Participants will be willing and able to tell the story of how and why they came to Sheffield and may have someone support them while they meet the journalist.  The output, ie, their story in the feature, will be totally anonymous….  Of course, RASAG are taking part.

For more info on this or any RASAG project, get in touch on katelyn_mckeown@yahoo.co.uk

Protest for Lemlem

20 Jul

This could be our last chance to make a difference.

Lemlem is due to be deported to Ethiopia tomorrow, despite the fact that she is not from there and has never been there before.  Lemlem does not speak Amharic, the first language of Ethiopia.  Her family and village were murdered by Ethiopian forces in 1978 due to their association with the Eritrean Liberation Front, so Lemlem will be seen as an enemy in Ethiopia.  She is 60 years old, has a bad limp and poor eyesight – she has no chance of surviving in a new country where she has no friends or contacts.

If you’re in any doubt about how failed  asylum seekers are removed from the UK and who by, check out the Independant’s front page on Monday 5th July 2010

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/abused-humiliated-and-abandoned-what-really-happens-when-the-uk-deports-failed-asylumseekers-2018387.html

There is a facebook event for the protest at;

http://www.facebook.com/katelyn.mckeown#!/event.php?eid=125508334160492&ref=mf

The details are Vulcan House, 6 Millsands, Sheffield S3 8NU,  Today · 15:00 – 17:00

For more information look at the facebook group.  Sign Lemlem’s petition at;

http://www.sheffieldcdas.org.uk/campaigns/petitions/lemlem-hussein-abdu/

Don’t let them send this poor lady away from the UK where she is safe and much loved.

Lemlem must stay!